One of the most iconic cars in the Indian market, the Maruti Suzuki Swift has just gotten a mid-cycle update. With a new engine and a few new design and feature updates, will the Swift stay dominant in the premium hatchback segment?
The Maruti Suzuki Swift has come a long way since it was first introduced into the country. In 2005 Maruti Suzuki was still selling small and low-quality products that were appealing because of their practicality and affordability. The Swift came in and changed all that. The Swift was a good-looking car that promised the same practicality with better quality and better performance. In fact, the Swift was such a fun car to drive that it began to be loved by car enthusiasts across the country. Since then, it has been one of the highest-selling products in India and has achieved a cult following.
Today though, the market is much more competitive, and there are plenty of options to choose from in the premium hatchback segment. Korean manufacturer Hyundai has made a steady way into eating away at Maruti sales, and then European carmaker VW, as well as Japanese brands like Honda and Toyota are also offering high-quality hatchbacks. There is also the concern of compact SUVs, which are now competing directly with hatchbacks. In order for the Swift to stay relevant in these trying times, Maruti Suzuki has given the car a much-needed facelift and has also added a new and more powerful engine. We take the new spin for a drive to see if it now has what it takes to hold on to its iconic status.
ON the design front the new Swift is exactly the same. The only change to the exterior design is the new front grille, which now also gets a slab of chrome running through it. There is also a dual-tone colour scheme on offer if you choose to go for it. On the inside much hasn’t changed either. The cabin is still nice and roomy and very comfortable. The dash layout is also the same and it gets a few new highlights. The sporty round instrument dials offer a very nice touch to the car and there is a digital display in the middle of the dials. The Swift now comes with two new features that will assist the driver and help consume fuel. These are cruise control and auto start/stop. Other than that, there are no new changes. There is also the SmartPlay Studio system that was introduced last year. There is also new upholstery on the seats.
Maruti has installed the new 1.2-litre four-cylinder DualJet petrol engine into the Swift. DualJet essentially means that there are now two injectors per cylinder. This helps increase power and improve efficiency. Power is up from 82bhp to 89bhp and fuel efficiency has also gone up by 2km/l to 23km/l. The new engine is mated to either a 5-speed manual or AMT. We drove the AMT variant, much to my disliking, because I feel the manual is a better fit for this engine. The AMT takes its sweet time to change gears, even when in manual mode. If you are driving in city traffic all the time it does the job just fine. However, on the highway, it can be bothersome to driver’s who like to drive a little more aggressively. The added power really doesn’t sound like much on paper, but it’s a pretty good improvement. Overtaking is now much easier as you get more power in the lower revs. There is also a bit more torque available throughout the rev band. The Swift certainly feels faster now, but the Hyundai Nios Turbo and the VW Polo 1.0 TSI both offer better power delivery and acceleration.
Ride and Handling
The Swift has always been an agile and fun car to drive. Although the steering isn’t as direct as the previous generation it still handles pretty nicely. The new generation Swift is now tuned more for comfort so the stiffness of the chassis and quick steering has been downplayed on the new generation. The facelift drives and handles the same. In the city, the ride quality is very good, and even on the highway the Swift is very well planted, but you do get some body-roll when taking on corners. Still, though, the car is fun to drive, and with the added power it offers better pick-up and acceleration.
With the new engine and updates, the price has gone up for the new Swift by roughly Rs 25,000, depending on the model you opt for. The base price is Rs 5.73 lakh (ex-showroom) to Rs 8.4 lakh (ex-showroom) for the top-end dual-tone AMT variant we were driving. While the competition certainly has gotten tough, the Swift still has a huge fan following, and the new Swift offers you plenty of driving fun while at the same time being extremely practical for every day driving and affordable as well.